40 years old, Spanish
2011: Honourable Mention – XI Spanish Biennal of Architecture and Urbanism
2011: Giancarlo Ius Gold Medal
2010: SAIE Selection Prize
2007: Bauwelt Preis
My wheel is a space built for children – a school.
In a few words, it is a space that is continuous and fluid, without corners, with a curved outline: façade, roof and windows.
It is an independent environment, safe and protected from the outside.
Jaime Magén, the co-founder of the Spain-based architecture firm Magén Arquitectos, was selected as one of the 40 under 40 most important emerging European architects in 2013.
His firm has won numerous awards, including the 2011 Giancarlo Ius Gold Medal, awarded for an innovative, sustainable and high-energy performance construction, and an Honourable Mention of the XI Spanish Biennial of Architecture and Urbanism, in 2011.
His firm focuses on the integral development of Architecture, Urban Planning, Restoration and Interior Design, and has undertaken a wide range of complex projects, from large-scale public buildings to smaller ones, including the Environmental Centre of Zaragoza, the Liceo Performing Arts Centre in Alcañiz and 68 social housing in Zaragoza.
He also won first prize in the Bauwelt Preis (Munich, 2007) and the SAIE Selection Prize (Bologna, 2010).
Jaime showed us the importance and magnificence of the circle, of unilateral symmetry, in architecture, from the theatres of the ancient Romans to the campuses of Apple.
How it embodies fortitude, elegance and the void – a sense of endlessness, without a point zero.
But it is also represented in the body, in the womb, the head, the mouth and the vagina, places from which there is an emergence and genesis.
Jaime talked captivatingly about the history of circles, how they have the dual faculty of keeping this enclosed while keeping things external too.
His own architecture and design seeks to explore these themes, and his latest project an elliptical school, uses the endless exuberance of the circle to encourage playfulness in its central playground.
While being a contained space, it eschews corners and angular barriers affording instead a sense of limitlessness and freedom.
It offers security within - protecting children - while guarding them from others outside, without being constrictive.
His concepts are functional while being patently philosophical too, and this vivifies his work.
Jaime produces not just buildings, but ideas. [Hanif Kureishi]
Do you consider your talent a gift or a burden?
A gift, but also a responsibility.
What you would do if one day you woke up and discovered you had lost your talent?
It is difficult to imagine, but maybe I'd try to find a new passion, exploring other fields.
Who is the living talent you most admire?
Creative talents, for example Jonathan Ive, the head of design of Apple.
What do you like about your talent and what don't you like?
I like the ability to imagine new buildings and interior spaces. I don't like the critic's views of the pursuit of beauty and perfection. Sometimes it can be harsh.
When or where does your talent make you happy?
When I visit new cities or buildings "through the eyes of an architect", to quote Rafael Moneo.
If you could change your talent, how you would change it?
I wouldn't change it, even I could.